Born and raised in Vancouver, Jennifer Hong is excited to be studying Forest Sciences at UBC. Jennifer, with a passion for health and forestry, is eager to use her research to show how maintaining a close connection with nature can help improve overall health.
Since I grew up in Vancouver, going to UBC felt like the natural thing to do. It has a great reputation for science and research, so being able to say I went to UBC brings a lot of recognition with it. Also, UBC has so many activities and communities that really make campus life diverse.
I’m in a degree program called Forest Sciences. My specialty within that is Ecosystems Services and Environmental Health. We’re trying to better understand our relationship with nature and the environment and to learn how to strengthen that bond. I think that’s what drew me to this research. The idea of connections, and how important they are, is something that’s really important to me.
That there’s so much we still don’t know. Even though things might be challenging, especially with everything that we, as humans, have done to the earth, it’s still exciting to think we can make things better. With research and knowledge, we can make a difference.
It’s hard to get funding to help further research, because this area of study is so new. There are a lot of different factors that play into health, so it’s hard to separate out what part of health is solely because of our relationship with nature. Studies show that exposure to green spaces can reduce stress. Perhaps with Vancouver’s new emphasis on green roofs and green spaces, there will be more research opportunities to continue investigating the relationship between health and nature.
I love how tight-knit the community is — like, if we have a huge gathering, let’s say, the unveiling of Reconciliation Pole, the community really comes together. And that sense of community extends all the way to the Faculty of Forestry, with events like Field School. It’s a week-long program where Forestry students learn about forestry-related concepts with professors at UBC’s research forests. Again, I think it comes back to the general idea of connections. Whether it’s with nature, or with students and teachers on campus, the idea of connections is something I love.
Being a part of this campaign has been such a unique opportunity. It’s great to see UBC using its voice to help promote some of the amazing work students are doing. Also, being featured on the Faculty of Forestry social media channels was a wonderful experience.
I’d have to say Dr. Rob Guy. He opened the door for me into Forestry and Forest Sciences. He opened my eyes to how differently you can see the world — like walking down the street and seeing a plant as being more than just something green. I don’t think I’d be where I am if I hadn’t met him.
Lately, we’ve seen an increasing global trend of non-communicable diseases. We might not see the impending effects of these diseases, but they’re there. So, if we want the population of BC to stay ahead of this trend, I think developing our research around how everything can impact our health, like within Forest Sciences, could really be beneficial. It goes back to the idea of connection. We’re connected to nature and, if we remove it from our lives, there could be unwanted consequences.